An invitation…

A message from the Black Women’s Rape Action Project:

We invite you to join London SlutWalk with us, this Saturday 11 June. In stark contrast to the way events are often structured, the London organisers approached our group seeking the active involvement of women of colour. We will be marching and speaking at the rally.

SlutWalks have taken place in a number of countries, and more are proposed including in India. Yet some Black feminists have condemned them as irrelevant to women of colour, and dismissed the organisers as ‘white middle-class women’. We reject this view.

SlutWalk is a much needed occasion to break down divisions and strengthen everyone’s right to protection and justice, no matter who we are, where we were raped or who raped us.

We want to make visible the 70% of women from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and elsewhere who are seeking asylum in the UK after suffering rape and other torture.

We want to make visible the women of colour protesting rape and/or racist attacks in Britain.

We want to make visible the women of colour everywhere who are fighting for justice after reporting attacks by men in positions of authority. Like the placards at the Paris SlutWalk march referring to the Black refugee housekeeper who has accused the ex-head of the IMF of attempted rape: ‘We are all chamber maids’.

We are meeting at the top of Piccadilly 1pm to stroll, roll, holler or stomp to Trafalgar Square for a lively rally. Look for BWRAP’s turquoise banner. Everyone is welcome.
Bring your placards, banners, slogans and chants.

Communicate Less Warmth and Likeability

More than one person has recently drawn my attention to another study that “women who experience stereotype threat regarding leadership abilities react against the stereotype by adopting a more masculine communication style.”

Results indicate that women who experience stereotype threat regarding leadership abilities react against the stereotype by adopting a more masculine communication style. Study 2 provides evidence that self-affirmation eliminates this effect of stereotype threat on women’s communication styles. A third study demonstrates an ironic consequence of this effect of stereotype threat on women’s communication—when women under stereotype threat adopt a more masculine communication style, they are rated as less warm and likeable, and evaluators indicate less willingness to comply with their requests.

Double-binds are ever interesting to me, as I’ve previously noted. But the older I get, the less I care whether I’m perceived to be warm and likeable. I find that a more masculine communication style has compensating benefits outweighing the inward ratings of others. “But Big K,” one might reply, “note the consequence that ‘evaluators indicate less willingness to comply with their requests.’” Yes, they may indicate it, but do their indicators of their willish feelings correlate with actual reduced compliance with leaders’ requests? Consider the parallel: Powerful men may tick people off, and indeed subordinates of powerful jerks may say, “See if I do what he says!” But if they then actually do what the unlikeable or chilly man says, then how much does, e.g., former Vice President Dick Cheney need to care if he’s rated as less warm and likeable? Yes, that’s right, I just painted myself into a corner in which I aim to be like Dick Cheney.

I’d better end on a more pointful point, which is this: Depending on the context in which one is ‘rated,’ there may be a few rather different ways for women to manage communication in light of stereotype threat. One could be overt recognition of the threat and a conscientious attempt to avoid the adaptive preference for more masculine communication styles. As stated in the previous post on negotiation, a successful strategy can also include upping one’s feminine signals to generate audience approval, “expressing interest in relationships, community well-being, and the compensator’s point of view.” In contexts in which one is negotiating with more powerful agents, this can apparently mean earning a full million dollars more over one’s life!  But perhaps another approach, in leadership contexts, could be the more clear-headed embrace of a reduction in one’s warmth and likeability, divesting oneself of traditionally feminine virtues, especially if said reduction is accompanied by traditionally (but surely not exclusively) masculine social benefits, and a reduction in stereotype-threat.

Of course, the older I get, the more easily I can afford to be unconcerned with my likeability (literally, monetarily, I can afford it, as I no longer have to negotiate salaries much).